Living mindfully in France

I’ve been reading a wonderful book called Mindfulness for Health and one of the chapters has asked me to write down ten good things I’ve come across every day for a week. The author says, “It’s important to write down ten things and not to stop after you’ve reached four or five. This is the explicit aim of the exercise – consciously bringing to mind the small, previously unnoticed experiences that would normally slip by and not be remembered.”

The idea is that thoughts and actions you repeat continuously, increase in power and, over time, become automatic. In this way, we literally become what we think and do. The concept is linked to neuroplasticity and, although relatively new to science, research in neuroplasticity is exciting and promising for many health problems.

So, I did the exercise and let me tell you, it wasn’t easy. Ten things? I couldn’t write the first five or six down quickly enough and then I’d run out of steam. But, I stuck with it – because I really really don’t like to give up – and then extended it to month instead of a week. Just to prove to myself that I could.

Looking back over my lists, I’ve noticed that a lot of them have to do with the area I live in. Let me tell you about the Maurienne valley in the French Alps. It’s wilder and not as well-known as the bigger valleys like the Tarentaise, where the ex-pats and rich holiday-makers like to hang out, but it is beautiful…and even more so because it’s not a hotspot for tourists.

Here are some of my ten good things, and I’m sure you’ll agree that they are indeed the knees of a bee!

  • Sunflowers – there’s nothing quite like them for colour and for making me smile.

  • Crisp colours and fresh air
  • Cows with their big brown eyes and soft noses
  • The colours of autumn that make taking a walk without stopping every two minutes an impossible task
  • The sheer luck of spotting a marmot and then having it sit down to watch me watching it for 20 minutes

And not to go on and on about it, but did you notice the scenery? Beautiful? You bet. Living mindfully in France is not the hardest thing you could do.

What are ten good things you can think of today? Go on, give it a try. It’s harder than you think at first, but not so hard that you can’t learn to notice the beauty around you with practise.

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